Elevate your Brussels sprouts game by understanding what they are and how to use winning flavour combinations that will make this underrated veggie the star of the show.
What is Brussels Sprouts?
Brussels sprouts have a reputation for being divisive among taste buds. Some people think they’re the bee’s knees, while others think they’re downright gross. But for those who appreciate their unique flavour, there’s nothing quite like them.
As members of the Brassica oleracea family, they are closely related to other leafy greens such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Brussels sprouts are small, round, and compact vegetables that resemble miniature cabbages. They typically range in size from about 2 to 4 centimetres (1 to 1.5 inches) in diameter and grow on a long, thick stalk.
Each sprout is made up of tightly layered green leaves that surround a small, pale-yellow core. The outer leaves may have a slightly wrinkled appearance and can range in colour from light to dark green.
There are a few different types of Brussels sprouts, including standard green sprouts, red sprouts (which have a slightly milder flavour), and even purple sprouts (which are milder still and have a nutty flavour).
Despite their small size, Brussels sprouts pack a powerful punch in terms of health and nutrition. They are high in fibre and low in calories, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied without overindulging. They are also a good source of vitamins C and K, folate, and potassium.
In terms of production, Brussels sprouts are grown in many different parts of the world, including Europe, Australia, and the United States. They require cool temperatures and a certain number of “chill hours” to develop properly, which is why their seasonality can vary depending on the location.
When are Brussels Sprouts in Season?
Brussels sprouts are typically in season from September through March in the Northern Hemisphere and from March through September in the Southern Hemisphere.
In Australia, for instance, our peak season for Brussels sprouts is from June to August, our coldest months. It’s important to note that the exact timing can vary depending on the location and climate.
In general, cooler temperatures and shorter days are optimal for Brussels sprout growth, which is why they are most commonly associated with fall and winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
Did you know: Did you know that Brussels sprouts are actually named after the city of Brussels, Belgium? This is why the vegetable is spelled “Brussels” with an “s” at the end rather than “Brussel” without the “s”.
The city of Brussels has long been associated with the cultivation and consumption of Brussels sprouts, which were first grown in the region during the 16th century.
So the next time you see the word “Brussels” on a menu or in a recipe, remember that it’s a nod to the vegetable’s origins in one of Europe’s most beloved food cities.
What Goes with Brussels Sprouts?
Fruit and Vegetables
Apples, artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, ginger, orange, radish, zucchini.
Herbs, Nuts and Dairy
Basil, bay leaf, blue cheese, caraway seeds, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, parsley, pistachio, thyme.
Protein and Other
Bacon, beef, capers, duck, ham, salami, soy sauce, sumac.
What Does Brussels Sprout Taste Like?
Flavour: Brussels sprouts have a distinct and earthy flavour with a slightly bitter taste. However, when cooked properly, the bitterness fades away, and the sweetness and nuttiness of the sprouts come through.
Texture: Brussels sprouts have a crispy and crunchy exterior with a tender and juicy centre when cooked properly.
The leaves of the sprouts are tightly packed, which gives them a satisfying crunch when you take a bite. In addition, Brussels sprouts retain their shape and texture, making them a great addition to salads, stir-fries, or roasted as a side dish.
Some people find the texture of Brussels sprouts to be too chewy or tough, but this can be remedied by adjusting the cooking time or method. Roasting or sautéing them until they’re lightly browned and tender can help bring out their delicious texture.
How to Use Brussels Sprouts in Salads and Side Dishes?
Brussels sprouts have long been relegated to the Thanksgiving table, but it’s time to give these small, leafy vegetables their moment in the culinary spotlight. With their bright green leaves and earthy flavour, roasted Brussels sprouts can take a simple salad from drab to fab.
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your salad game, try shredding or thinly slicing Brussels sprouts and tossing them with kale, spinach, and other tasty ingredients like nuts and dried fruit.
And don’t forget about roasted Brussels sprouts – these crispy little bites add the perfect crunch and nuttiness to any salad.
But Brussels sprouts aren’t just for salads – they also make a fantastic side dish. Maple-glazed Brussels sprouts are a sweet and savoury option, while roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon (a popular keto salad combo) add a smoky and salty kick to any meal.
For a more subtle flavour, sauté Brussels sprouts with garlic and shallots – your taste buds will thank you.
When it comes to cooking Brussels sprouts, there are endless possibilities. You can use them raw, roast them, grill them, sauté them – the options are truly endless. And the best part? You can serve them warm or cold, making them a versatile ingredient in the kitchen.
Salads and Side Dishes with Brussels Sprouts
Calling all Brussels sprout lovers! For those with a sophisticated palate yearning for nutty and bitter flavours, this purple Brussels sprouts salad is made for you. The fragrant spices and heavenly honey add depth to the recipe. Perfect for that special occasion!
Sweet maple roasted Brussels sprouts and Dutch carrots salad, what’s not to love? Along with the nutty texture of freekeh balanced with freshness of peas and rounded off with creamy goat cheese, our warm Brussels sprouts salad is insanely flavoursome.
Let the zhoug sauce do the talking as it forms the luxurious base for these gorgeous roasted red Brussels sprouts. This is the perfect side dish for the cooler months and let the warm spices and the spicy sauce give the winter chills the flick!
Frequently Asked Questions
When picking Brussels sprouts, it’s important to look for bright green, compact sprouts that are firm to the touch. Avoid any that are discoloured, yellowing or soft, as they may be past their prime.
Size is also important, as smaller sprouts tend to be sweeter and more tender than larger ones. The sprouts should be attached to a sturdy stalk, which can help to keep them fresher for longer.
To clean Brussels sprouts, first, remove any loose or discoloured outer leaves from the sprouts. Rinse them under cool running water, then cut off the stems and slice the sprouts in half.
Place them in a bowl of cold water and gently swirl them around to loosen any dirt or debris. Drain the water and repeat the process if necessary. Pat the sprouts dry with a clean towel or paper towel before using them in your recipe.
First, remove any loose or damaged outer leaves, and trim the tough end of the stem. Then, cut the sprouts in half lengthwise from the top to the stem end.
For smaller sprouts, you can leave them whole or cut them into quarters. If you want to shred the Brussels sprouts, thinly slice them crosswise after halving them lengthwise.
Brussels sprouts can go bad if not stored properly. They will typically stay fresh for up to two weeks when stored in a cool, dry place such as the refrigerator. Signs that Brussels sprouts are going bad include yellow or brown leaves, mould or an unpleasant smell.
To prevent spoilage, store them in a breathable bag or container and wash them before use. If you notice any signs of spoilage, it’s best to discard them to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.
Yes, you can microwave Brussels sprouts. To do so, rinse them under cold water, trim off any stems or blemished leaves, and cut them in half or into quarters.
Place them in a microwave-safe dish with a small amount of water, cover with a microwave-safe lid or cling wrap, and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the sprouts are tender but still slightly firm.
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